We recently heard about an interesting project that a young writer has taken on. Paul Miller, a technology writer for the online magazine Verge, began a life without the Internet on May 1, 2012. You can read about Paul’s project and his ongoing progress HERE.
He describes various reasons for trying this Internet-free life, but I’m cynically sure that one is that he will be able to write a book about his experiences and profit from it, and he continues to be paid as a writer for the magazine – which he still is, even without connections. He hopes to learn what it is like to be without something that, as a young person, he has grown up with and grown attached to in so many ways. So far he believes that the change has been a positive one, but only 3 months have passed. We’ll see how he does.
The whole idea made me think once again about certain ironies that hover around this lifestyle. We are members of that group of RVers that is known as the non-retired, still-working crowd. We are not relying on our investments to support us because we have none, and we don’t want to stay in one place so that we can work at a job, either. So as with many of our peers and colleagues, we try to make a living using technology, specifically the Internet and computers connected to it.
The reason this is ironic is that technology is one of those ill-defined things we decided to cut back on in the process of simplifying our lives. Much of the stuff we left behind was technology-related. Also, I have been using the Internet since the first browser was available (Mosaic) back in 1994, and I have maintained an interest in anti-technology writers and thinkers who have accompanied and followed the growth of the online world. These folks have been worried from the start about the effects our over-use of this technology might have on us as human beings, on our society, our culture, and life on earth in general. As the years go by and we become more dependent on this way of life, the warnings seem to fade only because everybody’s doing it, and it’s a runaway train – too late to stop now, even if we wanted to.
Now we have a situation that seems kind of upside down – someone is taking a year off from information technology, and if he makes it through this incredibly painful experience will be back online the second after 365 days have passed. On the other hand, we often wish that we didn’t have to use a computer for our work, because we know that there are side effects from all of this. Just for example, I have noticed over the years that my reading habits have changed – I tend to skim books much more that I used to do. I have what some would call addictions to checking email and surfing websites that bother me. I’m sure that sitting too long and staring at this machine is not good for my health, but I do it anyway because I have to, and it only gets worse as I get older. All in all, I would love to stop using IT for a year and get paid for it – anyone out there interested in a new project? Maybe something like, old guy who has used computers for too long wants to quit – will he be able to do it? I could write a book about it too – on my typewriter.
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